cdrtools, cdrkit and cdrskin: Untying the knot

Let me see if I have this straight.

In the beginning, there was cdrtools. Most everybody used it, and nobody had any complaints.

Then in 2006, the programmer changed the license from the GPL to the CDDL, although I don’t know why.

All is well except for Debian, whose grand poo-bahs say, “Hey, that there ain’t in line with our philosophies.” Although I don’t know why.

So in what could only be called a coup d’état, the Debian masterminds scalp the last GPL-licensed release of cdrtools, dub it cdrkit, and promise to keep stride with whatever happens in the original. Although I get the general idea why.

So now there were two symmetric projects, and sometimes one is available in your distribution. Sometimes the other. Sometimes … both! Although I don’t know why.

Here’s where things get even more blurry for me. Along comes cdrskin, which is part of a separate project, but is designed as a drop-in replacement for cdrtools’ original cdrecord program.

So there’s a CD burner project, plus another that mimics it but is licensed differently, and yet a third that pretends to be the original, but actually comes from a completely different direction. And I don’t know why.

Now there is a strong possibility that some or all of this little drama has been misunderstood on my part. If so, my sincerest apologies.

But in short, if I’m right, all three should look roughly the same.


And this time … maybe I know why. 😐

11 thoughts on “cdrtools, cdrkit and cdrskin: Untying the knot

  1. imgx64

    After losing at least half a dozen blank CDs to various bugs in cdrkit on Ubuntu, I did some searching and found this semi-rant by the original developer of cdrecord. I installed cdrecord from the PPA and viola, never lost a CD since then.

  2. imgx64

    The link seems to have disappeared from my comment. You will find the page I’m referring to by googling for “Many Linux distributions now come with broken variants of cdrtools” (WITH the quotes) and following the first link.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      I think I fixed it for you. If that’s not the page you want, e-mail me with a link and I can insert it for you. Thanks! 😉

  3. Thomas Schmitt

    I am the author of cdrskin. It exists as a convenience
    interface to libburn for those frontends which already
    use Joerg Schilling’s cdrecord. cdrskin does not pretend
    to be the original but rather an emulation that is
    compatible with most use cases of cdrecord.

    Newer frontends may well use the libburn API or the
    interfaces provided by xorriso.

    The reason for the fork of cdrkit was the interpersonal
    incompatibility of Joerg Schilling and the wider Linux
    developer community.
    The reason for my involvement in libburn was the fear
    that at some degree of quarrel there would be no tool
    to do CD TAO on Linux. On DVD and BD media, i do not
    agree with how cdrecord handles them (i.e. with Joerg’s
    interpretation of MMC specs).

    BTW: The similarity between cdrskin and the others
    would become more obvious with the output of
    cdrskin -help with a single dash. Double dashed –help
    shows the extension options which are not compatible
    with cdrecord.

    Have a nice day 🙂


    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Thanks Thomas. That helps me understand a lot. I was still new to Linux when the cdtools-cdkit drama happened. I appreciate the explanation.

      I should have checked cdrskin -h but didn’t think of it. I will try it next time I burn a CD! 🙂


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  5. schily

    I am the Author of cdrtools and I am a victim of anti-social behavior
    from Debian (like the Linux uers are).

    Putting cdrtols under a free license was planned for a long time,
    but the attacks from Debian finally triggered the change.

    In 2004, a new packetizer at Debian tried to force me to add a
    patch to mkisofs that would have introduced serious bugs. When
    he realized that I am not willing to destroy my software he started
    a diffamation campaign against me and the cdrtools project and
    in May 2004 created his defective fork that includes the broken

    I asked Debian to replace the hostile packetizer to no avail.
    In Summer 2005, Debian started a red herring by claiming that
    there was a license change in cdrtools and that cdrtools violate
    the GPL. Note that at that time no license change was applied to
    cdrtools and cdrtools was of course still 100% GPL. The red herring
    from Debian made it obvious that you will not get help for GPL code
    from the community in case that hostile people like Debian start a
    diffamation campaign.

    As a result, I relicensed cdrtools under CDDL – Debian continued
    to claim that cdrecord was violating the GPL even though 100% of
    cdrecord was under CDDL….

    The problem with some people that claim being part of the Linux
    community is that these peopleare never seen at community
    events but rather hide and just spread attacks to the net. The debian
    people Eduard Bloch and Jörg Jaspert are such community incompatible
    persons. Fortunately, these community incompatible people claiming
    to be Linux guys are rare, but as they are very active with spreading
    their hate texts, people may believe that they represent a majority.

    BTW: the SCSI related tasks of cdrtools are privileged operations
    and for this reason, writing a related library is inapropriate as you would
    need to make any application that uses them suid root or similar and
    audit the whole code. This e.g. prevents a GUI to from directly using
    such a library as you cannot do a security audit for something as complex
    as a GUI.
    Cdrtools are audited….

    Besides the obvious problems with the Debian “fork”, many people did not
    notice that cdrtools aprox. tripled code and features since September 2004,
    which is the origin of the code currently used by Debian.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Thanks very much for your side of the story. I know a lot of this is ancient history, but it explains the split between the two packages, and with Thomas’s side, the appearance of cdrskin. Thanks again. 🙂

    2. anon

      You are a victim of debian politics Jörg. All this legal bs about license incompatibility is baseless and wrong.

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  7. Bahooka

    Tried recently to clone CD audio bitperfect, readom and wodim failed – the copy wasn’t bitperfect (EAC accuraterip checksum mismatch). Readcd and cdrecord cloned the cd perfectly – even cuesheet generated by EAC was the same as generated from the oryginal CD, which was hard to achieve even with cdrdao different modes read-toc, read-raw etc. Anyway, I don’t see why they are so stubborn to stick with inferior and of worse quality package, having the possibility to use cdrtools, which have been evolving through these years. The quality of code and being open source should be the priority.

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